“ARI” was produced by the Center for Capampangan Studies of HAU and was written by the center’s director Robby Tantingco. The movie is in Capampangan (with English subtitles) the province’s language, and yet its message has transcended geographical barriers by winning global awards.
Born to hardworking parents Carmelito M. Catu, a carpenter, and Maria Joy E. Catu, Carlo attributes his values to his supportive family. As a student, Carlo helped his mother clean classrooms and sold lunches and pastries to schoolmates for a living.
Catu was lured to directing after attending a filmmaking workshop in 2013 about how to watch a film. The sessions created a desire to make films.
“I wanted to make a film that immortalizes a colorful culture like Capampangan poetry, which has faded in time. We may not be able to go back to the past, but the truth is it is where we came from. Knowing more about it is how we can move forward.”
Carlo does not worry if it’s a niche market. “Regional filmmaking should not separate regions, but aim to give different voices, that music that makes us one nation.”
Catu added, “Filmmaking widens the regional audience, it expands moviegoers’ choices and speaks the stories we haven't heard yet, making us understand who we are.”
To date, “ARI” has been awarded these laurels: London International Filmmakers Festival, France, Best New Talented Director (2016); Ani ng Dangal, Film and Director category recipient; Metro Manila Film Festival New Wave 2015, Best New Wave Film; Manila Bulletin Best Feature Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor; Manila Bulletin Indie Bravo, Awardee; All Lights India International Film Festival 2015, Best Debut Feature Film Director; Harlem International Film Festival, NY 2015, Best World Film.
Carlo reflected, “The worldwide acclaim changed the way I listen to people and see the world.”
Catu believes in his moviegoers. “We must have faith in our audience. They will support local and regional cinemas the same way we support American or foreign films.”
In a film, Catu tries to look for its heart, its honesty, what it wants to say and how much needs to be told. “ARI’s” message is powerful: We speak different languages, and yet we understand each other and respect our differences.
Through his directorial debut in Pampanga, Carlo has reached out to enrich the world, giving his audience a sense of purpose and leveling out the bumpy roads for other brave artists who will come after him.
Elizabeth Ann Quirino, based in New Jersey, is a journalist, food writer and member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). She blogs about Filipino home cooking and culinary travels to the Philippines on her site AsianInAmericamag.com.
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